Panasonic DMC-GH4 review

This DSLR camera shoots 4K. And the results are thrilling

With commercial 4K content still conspicuous by its absence, a solution for UHD TV owners is to make their own. Photographers have long been capturing images in excess of eight megapixels, but the Panasonic GH4 is the first Micro Four Thirds system camera to offer 4K shooting modes.

Even without 2160p compatibility, this is a remarkable imaging tool. A 16.05-megapixel Live MOS sensor captures images of remarkable clarity, there are copious creative modes to explore, and the 3in OLED screen is a delight. However, it’s 4K that really sets it apart.

The GH4 encodes UHD in H.264 MPEG-4. Frame rates are capped at 30Hz/fps, so no Hobbit-style options are available. The maximum continuous recording time in 4K is a second shy of thirty minutes, with the recording split into multiple files. Unfortunately, because the GH4 doesn’t use efficient HEVC encoding, file sizes are extremely large, taking only minutes to consume GBs of space. You’ll need at least a 32GB Class 3 SD card. While 3,840 x 2,160 is the standard resolution, you can also record pro-grade 4,096 x 2,160. 

Playback options include direct connection via HDMI, SD card (Panasonic’s 2014 AX802 TVs have a 4K-compatible slot) or from a NAS or USB (depending on your media player).

Image quality is sensational. Until we start to see 4K from broadcast or packaged media sources you'll struggle to push a panel to this kind of level. Skin textures, brickwork, fabrics… all exhibit preternatural detail. Sequences lensed around London's Chinatown transpire to be outstanding UHD demo footage. It's easy to see why Panasonic believes DIY UHD could be a killer app. 

Panasonic DMC-GH4, £1,750,
HCC verdict: 5/5